Members of the Canadian Air force came back to a small North Yorkshire village to commemorate 80 years of history, honour the fallen and rekindle a friendship with a remarkable 94-year-old.

Maurice Sanderson from Skipton on Swale, near Thirsk, was a young teenager when he escaped death or serious injury when a stricken Halifax bomber from the nearby Canadian air base came down in the centre of the village.

Two airmen were killed, along with a five year old local boy who was playing in the garden of his home.

Darlington and Stockton Times: 433 Squadron gather with Maurice to mark their 80th anniversary

Maurice had seen the plane coming and ducked down behind a wall. He was covered in debris, but not badly hurt. He remembers with fondness the Canadian airmen who invited him onto the base to watch films and listen to concerts. 433 squadron was set up on the base on September 25, 1943, and Maurice has kept in touch ever since.

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This week, 80 years later, 80 members of the squadron who were over from their base in Quebec on a training exercise travelled to Skipton on Swale for a special ceremony.

More than 40 years ago a plaque was set up in the village by the Canadians to honour the dead and their connection to the community on a piece of Halifax stone. A special wooden chair was also commissioned from the Mousey Thompson carvers, which stood in Skipton on Swale Church. It was brought out for Maurice for the ceremony, which also included a fly past by the Canadian Air Force.

Darlington and Stockton Times: 433 Squadron gather with Maurice to mark their 80th anniversary

Commanding Officer Lt Col Thomas Lawrence, of 433 squadron, said they were honoured to be back in Skipton on Swale where their history began.

“We want to thank the people of Skipton on Swale for their support," he said. "It is an honour and a privilege to mark the 80th anniversary of the squadron here.

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“Born in the crucible of war when mankind faced its darkest hour, this squadron continues to serve Canadians with pride to this day. We pay homage to our history of brave men and women who willingly put their lives in danger, and in many cases gave their lives for the cause of freedom from tyranny and oppression.”

Maurice said it was a huge honour to welcome members of the squadron back to the village.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Maurice in the Mousey Thompson chair at the Skipton on swale memorial

“During the war, village life changed dramatically," he said. "The servicemen were very friendly and I was able to join them to view all the latest films in their cinema. Although life was hard, they lived life to the full and spirits were high. They visited local towns and had a habit of stopping the trains at their own convenience by pulling the emergency cord to stop 100 yards from their billets.

“It is wonderful to see them here and to commemorate again the strong ties between the Canadian Air Force and Skipton on Swale.”

Following the closure of the church, the search is now on to find a home for the commemorative Mousey Thompson chair, hopefully in the village.